WASHINGTON — The annual Conservative Political Action Conference kicked off here this morning, and already it promises to be a wild weekend.Thousands of conservatives have descended on the Marriott Wardman Park for three days of conservative cheerleading, Obama-bashing, and general Doomsday prophesies about American Exceptionalism.
So far, everyone still seems to be settling in, greeting their conservative compatriots, and trying to find the coat check. But with a packed CPAC 2012 schedule ahead of us, things promise to heat up pretty quickly.
Here are a few of the awesome things to watch out for at this year’s CPAC:
- Marco Rubio: The Florida Senator and GOP White Knight is scheduled to speak at 10:30 this morning. CPAC is well-known for launching conservative stars, and after Rubio’s impressive speech in Miami last month, our expectations are very high.
- Rand Paul: The Kentucky Senator is standing in for his father Ron Paul this year, which is a surprising twist given the elder Paul’s past popularity at CPAC. Paul maniacs usually come out in droves for this annual event, so it will be interesting to see if the younger Paul can carry the torch.
- The Conservative Dating Seminar: The TeaParty.net is actually hosting a dating seminar, featuring juggler/pick-up artist/escape artist Wayne Elise (just read the bio.) Here’s the description:
Learn everything from how to avoid scaring away your own personal Dagny Taggert in the first five minutes of the conversation, to whether Tea Partiers and Occupiers can share something more than a dislike for bailouts.
- Kirk Cameron: The Growing Pains star will be here to introduce his new movie “MONUMENTAL: In Search Of America’s National Treasure.” We’re not sure what to expect here.
- The Return Of The Former 2012ers: Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann are all scheduled to speak today.
- The Mitt vs. Newt War: Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are both scheduled to speak on Friday, within hours of each other. This is a big moment for both of the 2012 candidates — after Santorum’s wins this week, Romney will have to prove he can fire up the conservative base while Gingrich will be expected to make some kind of recovery from last weekend’s painful press conference. The question is whether either candidate can lock up their distaste for the other one and deliver a positive message here.
- The Return of Sarah Palin: GOP’s prodigal daughter will return Saturday afternoon to make the keynote speech at CPAC. Palin has been uncharacteristically quiet for the past few months, so her speech here is expected to be a jubilant return. But if four years of Sarah have taught us anything, it is that we should never try to predict her next move.
We’ll be covering the action from the trenches all week, so check back for updates.
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